We now know, from Reuters, that “The worst winter storm in two decades has hit the eastern Mediterranean this week”,
The Reuters report, published here, notes that in Syria, “dozens of people have died … in four days of relentless extreme weather. At least 17 people have also died due to the storm in Lebanon, Jordan, Turkey, Israel and the Palestinian territories. Schools in some areas have been shut for days, refugee camps flooded and villages isolated by closed roads. Meteorological agencies in Israel and Lebanon both called it the worst storm in 20 years … Families are burning doors and chairs to keep warm in the absence of fuel in Aleppo, Syria’s most populous city, now largely in rebel hands, said Michal Przedalcki, from Czech charity People In Need, working in northern Syria. ‘Unfortunately I think it quite likely that people will die from the severe weather conditions. Already people have not been eating enough for several months, and that exposes their bodies to more disease and infection, especially after also living through weeks of cold conditions’, he said”.
Temporary camps for Syrian refugees in Lebanon and Jordan are flooded and freezing.
[However, it’s reported here to be even worse for Palestinian refugees fleeing from Syria. who “are being placed in compounds under strict conditions….[and] are being banned from entering Jordanian cities”… UPDATE: The Times of Israel later reported here that “Syria’s southern neighbor, Jordan, has begun to turn away Palestinian refugees fleeing toward the border, Al-Jazeera reported earlier this week”, in a post published here. The Al-Jazeera report noted that “while Palestinian refugees carrying Jordanian IDs were allowed to enter Jordan, children of Jordanian women who were not citizens are being refused”… And Al-Jazeera reported that Jordanian government spokesperson Samih Maaytah said that “Jordan does not prevent the return of its citizens… but the transfer of Palestinian refugees from Syria to Jordan is a matter of tens of thousands, something Jordan cannot bear”. The Al-Jazeera report added that “Jordan has absorbed some 126,000 Syrian refugees, but Palestinians fleeing Syria are placed in a separate refugee camp at the Cyber City compound, under stricter conditions, and are banned from entering Jordanian cities. The Jordanian government fears that an influx of Palestinian refugees may tilt the demographic balance in Jordan even more towards the Palestinians, who are already believed to comprise a large majority of the population”…]
Some of the homes for Palestinian refugees in Al-Amary camp near the center of downtown Ramallah are also flooded and cold. The camp, located in a low-lying area, is flooded in even normal rainfall. But the rain in this storm has been continuing for days. Most of the time, the 8,000 residents of Al-Amary camp had only each other to rely upon for bailing out the icy muddy water for several days.
Most residents of Ramallah were house-bound by Wednesday evening, because their cars could not make it up even a slight incline — never mind the hills that many people in Ramallah live on.
UPDATE: At 21h35, there was… well, not a snow plow, but a yellow catepillar construction vehicle with big treaded wheels and a scoop in front that was clearing a single lane on the street with the slight incline, going up to Ramallah Hospital.
By the end of the afternoon, there was a light dusting of snow on streets + roads again in Ramallah. Most cars [worn tires?] can’t make it up a slight incline. Only one passenger car, and one heavy truck on its second try, made it in one very slightly inclined area. Fascinating behavior ensued.
There was flooding yesterday in Tel Aviv, and in northern Israel and also in Lebanon — and in the West Bank, where there appears to be no kind of drainage for any of the new roads.
It’s bad everywhere. But it’s hard to describe enough how much worse the grimness of the difficult, exhausting, depressing + stressful experience of week-long winter storms is, in Palestinian areas.
Another Reuters story, posted here, reports that:
- “Heavy winter downpours have turned some Palestinian lands in the occupied West Bank into a morass of filth and flooding as an Israeli barrier blocks the waters from draining away. In Qalqilya, a town of 42,000 in the northern West Bank almost completely surrounded by the concrete wall, Khaled Kandeel and his family huddled by an open fire in a shed as trash-laden water swelled through his pear orchard. ‘Before the wall, the water used to drain fine, and flowed down to the sea easily. They could just flip a switch and end our suffering, but they don’t’, Kandeel said, his breath steamy from the winter cold…Drainage channels run under the imposing ramparts but their automated metal gates are mostly closed and now clogged with refuse and stones that block the outflow of storm water. The Israeli military, citing security reasons, generally bars locals from clearing the obstructions or digging their own channels close to the barrier…Hemmed-in residents of northern towns in the West Bank have been deprived of large swathes of rural land, forcing poorly-regulated waste dumping closer to farms and homes. Driving rain could not mask the stench of raw sewage being unloaded from a tanker on a village road outside Qalqilya on Tuesday, its putrid contents mixing with the brown torrent pouring past olive trees clustered on the hills … Planning restrictions, inked as part of interim peace accords by Israeli and Palestinian negotiators almost two decades ago, widely limit locals’ ability to build water infrastructure or repair damaged or polluted wells.
- But in Hebron, whose old city is a flashpoint of conflict with Jewish settlers, rare coordination with the Israeli military allowed Palestinian officials to lift the concrete slabs which separate the ethnic enclaves to relieve flooding. ‘We removed the concrete to prevent the passage of water to the old city souq, where flooding reached up to one meter’, said Walid Abu Halawa of Hebron’s construction commission. ‘We also opened holes in the iron barrier built by the Occupation at the terminus of the souq’, he told Reuters”…
And many are facing this misery without any money.
In the West Bank, Palestinian Authority employees [the PA is the largest employer in the occupied Palestinian territory] got 2nd half of their October salary at beginning of November. But, the banks took full loan installments due — leaving many people without cash since the beginning of October.
At the beginning of December, no salaries were paid… On 24 December, the first half of November salaries were finally paid, but again the banks took their full loan installments due from the Palestinian government employees. Government employees were left with even less cash than in early November…
Hard to understand, but many families here, dependent on the area’s largest employer, have had no cash to operate on since early October.
And this winter weather is cruel, and exhausting, and seems endless…